- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; unknown edition (September 27, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143120174
- ISBN-13: 978-0143120179
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 100 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What Technology Wants unknown Edition
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Verbalizing visceral feelings about technology, whether attraction or repulsion, Kelly explores the “technium,” his term for the globalized, interconnected stage of technological development. Arguing that the processes creating the technium are akin to those of biological evolution, Kelly devotes the opening sections of his exposition to that analogy, maintaining that the technium exhibits a similar tendency toward self-organizing complexity. Having defined the technium, Kelly addresses its discontents, as expressed by the Unabomber (although Kelly admits to trepidation in taking seriously the antitechnology screeds of a murderer) and then as lived by the allegedly technophobic Amish. From his observations and discussions with some Amish people, Kelly extracts some precepts of their attitudes toward gadgets, suggesting folk in the secular world can benefit from the Amish approach of treating tools as servants of self and society rather than as out-of-control masters. Exploring ramifications of technology on human welfare and achievement, Kelly arrives at an optimistic outlook that will interest many, coming, as it does, from the former editor of Wired magazine. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A bold new book ... an engaging journey through the history of 'the technium,' a term [Kelly] uses to describe the 'global, massively interconnected system of technology vibrating around us.'"
-The New York Times Book Review
"Kevin Kelly "radically rethinks the relationship between humans and technology ... Kelly's concept of the technium and his description of how it attains autonomy are original and timely."
"... an exuberant book."
-The Washington Post
"...consistently provocative and intriguing."
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Technology or "technium" is not seen as similar to natural evolution but as the next phase of a wider evolutionary process. Some parts could remind of "I Robot" by Asimov but the general idea is:
Phase 1: Evolutionary process has its specific features and can be seen everywhere.
Phase 2: "Technium" is starting the same process through man-made artifacts and ideas.
Phase 3: "Technium" is not starting a new process. Instead, it is the continuation of the same process.
Phase 4: What can be said about the future?
Perhaps the main advice for a potential reader should be an unfair one: Keep trying. It is unfair since a bad book does not deserve to be finished and this one could be seen in some parts as a bad book that already made its whole point. Not true. For instance, the chapter devoted to the Amish could be boring for many people (including me) but, after that one, it is possible to find others much more interesting.
Paradoxes like the one shown with electric engines, present everywhere just before dissappearing (because we are not even conscious of how many common devices are powered by electric engines) are very interesting. It is worth to read it.
I have long been interested in the future of humanity, and how technology has shaped our culture and identity. I've read just about everything I can get my hands on from Heidegger to Kurzweil. Kevin Kelly's newest effort sets itself apart from the crowd with its unique mix of tremendous scope and very human narrative. The book has extraordinary ambition but is undertaken with incredible humility.
It's a true pleasure to read and I believe Kelly has added something important to the conversation concerning technology.
His central premise is that technology is an extension of biological evolution. He is one of the few to talk concretely (and offers examples) of the ways in which we can resist, shape, and work with technology. He is also clear about the ways in which it's progress will be inevitable. Kelly is pioneering speaking of technology as a natural extension of biological technology, and I think in the future this will be the dominant way to talk about tech, not technology vs. biology but biology as technology. As we continue to reveal the incomprehensibility of the two-- and as we consciously merge the two-- we'll need leaders like Kelly to show us the blind corners in the road in our inevitable march towards increased diversity and new forms of technology.
This book is nothing short of thrilling to read, and I'm sorry to have finished it.
Not that the author is wrong - I fully agree with most of it. I do have a serious problem with his personification of technology - starting with the title itself. There is no doubt that most technologies have developed in tandem, that they are interdependent, and that there is an inevitability to it all - for better or for worse. To anthropomorphize this "technium" is downright silly, in my opinion.